POC I'm Watching: The WoC on "Xena"

So I'm on a Xena kick right now, and I'm rewatching my favorite eps.  It's strange to go back and watch the show yet again; I always seem to notice something new, even now.

This time, I decided to focus on the women of color featured in Xena.  To be fair, this show tried to maintain "diversity" on the show; it was filmed in New Zealand, so beautiful Maori women were in it all the time.  But the WoC who were featured as guest stars were few and far between, and severely lacking in some ways.  They were either very boring villains, or fabulous-looking villains whose screen time was too brief, OR they were basically Magical Negresses telling Xena she had a "great" destiny, was a "great" woman, capable of doing "great" things.  And either way, they often died after 1-2 episodes, or were conveniently already dead and introduced through flashbacks.

News flash: getting POC to constantly rescue, flatter, and mentor white protagonists isn't just a very patronizing way to write, but also seriously creepy.

Even worse, sometimes the WoC on the show were just window-dressing.  And on a show with an obvious lesbian theme, the Asian girl fetish was simply out of control.  For a show supposedly taking place - for the most part - in the Grecian/North African area, there were an awful lot of random East Asian women.

But anyhoo, here are the ladies who really stuck out to Moi:

Gabriella Larkin as "Khindin" (1 episode,
brief appearance, transforms into
Claire Stansfield)

Ebonie Smith as "M'Lila" (2 episodes, is already dead)

Jacqueline Kim as "Lao Ma" (2 episodes,
is already dead)

Gina Torres as "Queen Cleopatra of Egypt" (1 episode,
replaced with a white actress in another episode,
who dies at the very beginning so Xena can
take her place)

Tharini Mudaliar as "Naiyima" (1 episode, "ascends")

Michelle Ang as "Akemi" (2 episodes, is already dead)

Marie Matiko as Pao Ssu, the Evil Twin
( 2 episodes, dies)

Marie Matiko as K'ao Hsin, the Good Twin
(2 episodes)

Jo Lo as "Yo" (1 episode, 2-3 lines, and a kimono
in North African weather. Um...right.)

Sela Apera as the "Amazon Queen Marga"
(1 episode, dies, succeeded by a white
Amazon queen for several episodes)

Michelle Blanchard as the "Amazon Queen Mawu-ka"
(2 episodes, a few lines)


  1. I was a fan of Xena until I noticed Gabriel's ever-shrinking outfits but that's a whole different story. But anyway it's funny that you mentioned Gina Torres. LOL I always thought of her as the "Black Queen of Sci-fi Shows" and wished she could have transitioned from TV to movies--I'm not counting Serenity since it was based off a TV show. I wonder if her being replaced in Xena had to do with her moving to Hercules where she played a different character? Still both Hercules and Xena crossed over from time to time and it would have made sense for her to appear Xena again, even as her Hercules character.

  2. I often wondered why Gina Torres never returned to Xena more often. She's perfect for a show like that; did Lawless consider a threat? Because Lucy Lawless does have serious diva tendencies.

  3. Well, if she did, since her husband was the director, then she would have definitely gotten her way.
    I used to watch Xena but I haven't seen it since it originally aired.

  4. Lawless was smart. She didn't settle down with a fellow thespian or some edgy musician. She married a man with the power to create and run shows.

    She's an unlikely choice for her role on Spartacus, but....look who's running the show. And she should've died in the first season, but....look who's running the show.

  5. Yes, you are right. She's like that woman Christa Miller who was the female sidekick on Drew Carey. She has a similar husband who makes shows and even as she's turned into a sad plastic surgery victim, she gets cast b/c her husband makes new shows and always gives her a featured role. Or she could also be compared to Julie Chen, who apparently got Holly Robinson Peet booted off some talk show that they co-hosted.
    Are you talking about the Spartacus that just lost its lead actor to cancer?

  6. Are you talking about the Spartacus that just lost its lead actor to cancer?

    Yes, and don't even get me started on him. Dead 18 months after diagnosis, after being an unknown actor until he was 38. After going through all the rigorous gladiator training. Dying in his wife's arms, and not getting to watching his kids grow up. Andy Whytfield's death just upsets me to no end.

    But that's a different rant for a different day.

  7. If I'm not mistaken, Torres at that point was a recurring character on Hercules as Nebula and was Aeolus's wife. And at that point I think the show had jumped ahead about 25 years when Xena and Gabrielle got frozen in time.

    And then shortly thereafter, didn't she get her own show: Cleopatra 2525.

    I definitely would've loved Nebula to show up on Xena.

  8. I haven't seen all the episodes of Xena. I don't remember seeing WoC on the show, but I vaguely remember seeing a black man in the show. Wasn't his character romantically involved with Xena or something? Who was he?

  9. @ Brotha Wolf

    You're talking about Marcus. He died in the very first ep he showed up in, and then came back from the dead for one more ep. Yet he was touted as the love of her life.

    *rolls eye*

  10. By the way, I always had trouble taking white Amazons seriously...unless they were killing people.

    Their outfits, drumbeats, "dance moves", masks, and make up flat-out SCREAM "WoC". Talk about fetishizing and appropriation.


  11. Just to let you know, Xena was based on a REAL BLACK WOMAN'S STORY!!!


    But of course, we can't get nothin....

  12. I do remember there was some scenes with a black angel in the Heaven/Hell war episodes. That must have been pretty cool since i can still remember it after so many years.

    I think it was in a scene in which angels would stare away when Xena would ask if she had been a nice person.

  13. I think it was in a scene in which angels would stare away when Xena would ask if she had been a nice person.

    That was actually Callisto.

  14. I do remember there was some scenes with a black angel in the Heaven/Hell war episodes.

    She was Maori, I believe.

  15. I stand corrected. indeed it makes more sense if the scene is about Callisto.

    Oh, and that girl was a Maori, then. I need to watch this episode again, i know i liked it. This , at least, i can be sure.

  16. @ Jgreyden:

    I've also made the mistake if misidentifying Maori women. Some of them look "black" and I can identify with them as being one of few brown girls on a show. One of my favorite shows with Maori actors/actresses and even some S.African Asian actresses is The Tribe.

  17. Then again, some Maori sometimes refer to themselves as black, so....


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